When Mary's elderly mother, Lucy, had to leave the town she had spent her life in, and the home she loved, she was devastated. Mary had asked her mother, who was growing frail, with fading memory, to come live with her.

The transition was difficult. Then Mary brought her mother to Oakwood Creative Care at the Red Mountain Multigenerational Center in east Mesa. Oakwood, which also has a center near downtown Mesa, provides a wide range of services for elderly "members" in a "Day Club" setting.

Mary says Lucy has thrived in the club, where members participate in a wide variety of activities and make new friends. “Oakwood’s philosophy is a reservoir of love and understanding, seeing all as able-bodied, able-minded, regardless of someone’s diagnosis," says Mary. "They see each individual for their experiences in life, and each with a story to tell."

Mary says her mom believes she is a “volunteer” at the Day Club, and she has a reason to get dressed and put on her lipstick each morning. Because of Oakwood, Lucy has a place where she belongs and where she can contribute regardless of her fading memory.

Besides her volunteer activities, Lucy enjoys laughter yoga, music therapy, arts and crafts, and outings in the community. Says Mary: “Look out, my mother is back in the saddle!”

Oakwood Creative Care specializes in programs for individuals suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's, strokes and physical disabilities, says Sherri Friend, president and CEO. "Our programs are designed to bring out the best in each individual, offering them opportunities to stay engaged in the community, have a place where they belong, and socialize with peers experiencing a similar journey. We believe that someone's diagnosis doesn't stop them from having purpose and meaning in their lives."

Oakwood Creative Care also gives family members peace of mind that their loved ones are in a safe, secure, stimulating environment throughout the day, said Friend.

Oakwood Creative Care is one of 28 local charitable organizations that receive support from Mesa United Way. To read more "Faces of Need - and Hope" stories and to help, visit www.mesaunitedway.org, or call 480-969-8601. To learn more about Oakwood Creative Care, visit www.oakwoodcreativecare.org.

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